Your Nutrition and COPD

Did you know that the foods you eat can affect your breathing? Food and the calories and nutrients they provide fuel your body and its functions. Proper diet and getting the right nutrients can improve your health and help you breath more effectively with ease. Of course, there’s not one certain food that you can eat to cure all. You need a healthy diet with lots of variety. Here’s what you need to know about your nutrition and COPD.


Finding a Plan that Works for You

You and your doctor will work together to find a meal plan that works for you and your specific needs. You may want to consider also meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in COPD. Once you meet with your nutritionist or health care team, be sure to talk to them about the food to do like, which food you don’t like, and which you certainly will not eat. You should also discuss your everyday schedule and routine and any exercise you participate in. If you have any other health issues or special dietary needs (like any allergies), be sure to include those in your discussion.


How Breathing and Food Relate

The right combination of nutrients can make breathing easier. Our metabolisms work hard to change food into fuel and waste into carbon dioxide. The fuel is used for energy and the carbon dioxide is exhaled out of our bodies. Carbohydrates produce the most carbon dioxide once metabolized and fat produces the least. This means, that for those with COPD, eating a diet higher in fat and fewer carbs could help make breathing easier.

Guidelines for Your Nutrition

Here are some guidelines your nutritionist or doctor may set up for you. This varies for person to person and case by case. It is important to note that these are general guidelines and that your meal plan may differ. If yours differs, be sure to follow what your health care team has set up for you.

Complex Carbohydrates—Complex carbs are foods like fresh fruits, veggies, whole grain bread, and pasta. If you’re trying to gain weight, eat a wide variety of complex carbs including pasta and bread. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with fresh fruits and vegetables and limit whole grain pasta and bread.

Simple Carbohydrates—Limit your daily intake of simple carbs. This includes refined sugar, candies and sweets, sugary sodas, and baked goods.

Fiber—Aim to eat 20-30 grams of fiber each day. Including foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, bread, and pasta can help you reach that goal.

Protein—Protein helps maintain strong muscles, including the muscles used for breathing! A good source of protein can be found in meat, fish, and poultry, cheese, milk, eggs, nuts, and beans.

Healthy Fats—Healthy fats can be found in oils like olive or flax oil, salmon and other fish, nut and other seeds, and avocados. Avoid trans and saturated fats (butter, lard, hydrogenated vegetable oil, fried foods, sweets like cookies and other baked goods).

Vitamins and Minerals—Make sure you get a good variety of vitamins and minerals each day. COPD medications that contain a steroid can increase your need for calcium. Talk to your health care provider about adding a supplement.

Sodium—You may want to limit your sodium intake as it can cause edema that can increase blood pressure.

Fluids—COPD or not, you should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Aim to drink 6-8 8oz. glasses of water every day.